How to survive the 4th of July with your pets

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The Fourth of July is a blast for us humans, but it can be really stressful for your pets. Your furry best friend gets startled by loud noises from fireworks - and could end up freaking out or trying to run away. But don't worry! There are some things you can do to make this day a little easier on Chester's nerves. With these tips, you'll make sure your pet has as happy and safe a Fourth of July as you will.

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Keep your pet indoors

Even if you have a backyard or other enclosed outdoor space, keep your pet indoors for the entirety of this loud holiday. The noises can cause pets to startle and try to find creative ways to escape. A dog may jump a fence, for example, thinking it's in danger.

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Close your windows, curtains and blinds

Dogs who are skittish sometimes try to leap through windows to escape if they sense they're in danger. Avoid this situation by keeping all of your windows and shades shut.

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Play calming music

Loud fireworks noises can be startling for pets, especially when they come out of nowhere with no other noises. Dissipate the silence with some relaxing tunes. This can help to ease your pet's nerves and reduce the risk of a sudden freak-out. Another form of white noise, such as an air conditioner or fan, may also work. Avoid using the radio or television for this purpose, since you can't be sure that the noises coming from these devices will be calming. If a show has a scene that involves fireworks, for example, this could make things more confusing and upsetting for your pet.

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Leave your dogs at home

You may want to bring your pup with you to the beach or other shoreline to watch your town's fantastic fireworks display. But it's actually better to leave your dog at home. Dogs get really freaked out by the loud explosions and are likely to freak out even more in a crowded place. While this stress reaction could do some damage to your house interior (couch pillows, beware), it's better to contain the risk in your own home than to risk your dog biting someone or getting loose. If you can leave at least one person home with them, that's best - but that's not always possible.

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Don't crate your dog if you leave home

You may think that it's safer to crate your pup when you leave to see the fireworks, but it's actually better to leave the crate door open. If your dog gets spooked by the loud noises, being trapped in a tiny space will only increase Fluffy's stress. Your dog may end up hurting itself trying to escape. Put away any belongings you fear your dog might destroy in your absence and give your pet some room to breathe.

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Keep them away from human food

Celebrating the Fourth of July is incomplete without great food off the grill. It's likely your party will involve backyard burgers, hot dogs and refreshing summer sides. Maybe a cocktail or two? But while you feast, make sure to keep your pets away from all the human food. Some foods just aren't meant for pets. Certain foods can actually be dangerous, while others could make your pets feel seriously sick. If they eat them, they may end up nauseous or throw up and make a mess.

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Make sure your pets are wearing collars

Your pets should have collars on during Fourth of July, even if you're planning to leave them at home. Make sure you're prepared for them to escape or cut loose from their leash by updating their tags. Put their name, your phone number and your address on the tag. 

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Keep them away from bug spray and sunscreen

While you absolutely need to wear sunscreen, it could be dangerous for your pet. Certain chemicals in sunscreens and bug sprays can be toxic to pets when ingested and may irritate their skin. According to the ASPCA, DEET (a common ingredient in bug spray) may even cause neurological damage. When spraying yourself and your family, make sure that your pets aren't nearby. Go into your front yard or an enclosed room where your pet won't be sniffing around.

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Beware of glow jewelry

Glow necklaces and bracelets are often passed around at Fourth of July parties and fireworks displays. While the glow-in-the-dark liquid inside isn't deadly for pets, it could cause damage if ingested. Dogs may experience excessive drooling and gastrointestinal issues. And if they swallow large plastic pieces while playing with these items, they could have intestinal blockage.

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Never keep fireworks at home

Some at-home fireworks are legal. But you don't want to set these off around your pet. Pets who venture too close might get hit with pieces of metal or burned. Additionally, the loud popping noises are likely to spook them. Even having these items around the house could be dangerous due to toxic chemicals used to make them.

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Give your pet lots of exercise

Let your pet run off some of its nervous energy. Take your dog for an especially long walk or play tug-of-war for a while. Whip out some of your cat's favorite toys and play. Whatever you can do to tire out your pet before the fireworks start, do that.

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Shower your pets with love

The most important thing you should do to take care of your pets is simple: Give them lots of love! On this stressful day, your pet needs all the love and attention you have to spare. Spend a little extra time with your dog or buy your cat a new toy. Here are some toys your cat might actually love playing with!

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